Connect with us


6 killed in shooting at Christian school in Nashville

The shooter was identified as Audrey Hale, 28, of Nashville, according to police who identifies as transgender



Covenant School, Covenant Presbyterian Church, on Burton Hills Dr. in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo courtesy of the Nashville Metro Police Department)

In a press conference Nashville Police Chief John Drake told reporters that earlier Monday morning a 28-year-old local female armed with two “assault-type rifles and a handgun” was killed by responding officers.

“At one point she was a student at that school,” Drake told reporters hours after the shooting at the Covenant School. “But unsure what year […] but that’s what I’ve been told so far.”

The shooter was identified as Audrey Hale, 28, of Nashville, according to the chief, who identifies as transgender.

According to Drake, three children and three adults were killed in the shooting at The Covenant School on Burton Hills Boulevard, a private Christian school.

Children’s Hospital Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesperson John Howser told reporters “We can now confirm three children and two adults from the school shooting were transported to our Adult Emergency Department (the two adults) and (the three children) to the Pediatric Emergency Department at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital,” Howser said adding “All five patients have been pronounced dead.”

Police identified the three slain students as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all age nine.

The three faculty members killed were Cynthia Peak and Mike Hill, both 61, and school head Katherine Koonce, 60.

At his only scheduled public event at the White House, President Joe Biden called the shooting “sick” and renewed his call for Congress to ban assault weapons.

Drake noted that the shooter was killed on the school’s second floor by his officers acknowledging that the victims were students and staff members of the school.

The school has students from preschool through sixth grade and on a normal day has about 200 students and 40 staff members on campus.

In a statement, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted: “I am closely monitoring the tragic situation at Covenant. As we continue to respond, please join us in praying for the school, congregation and Nashville community.”

NBC News reported that just days ago, a 17-year-old suspect wounded two administrators at a Denver high school before he was found dead.

In February, three students were gunned down at Michigan State University. And in January, two students were fatally shot at a charter school in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Washington Post and other media outlets reporting that U.S. Rep. Andrew Ogles (R-Tenn.), who represents the Nashville district where the Covenant School is located, said Monday in a statement that he was “utterly heartbroken” by the mass shooting.

Gun reform activists including Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018, have called out Ogles for his hypocrisy posting tweets of Ogles posing with his children all carrying assault rifles in a 2021 family Christmas card photo:



Olivia Hill elected as first openly transgender official in Tenn.

Nashville native is U.S. Navy veteran



Olivia Hill (Photo courtesy of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund)

Voters in Nashville and surrounding Davidson County made history Thursday as Olivia Hill won an at-large seat on the Metro Council, making her the first openly transgender official elected to public office in the Volunteer State.

The Tennessean reported that Hill secured one of the council’s five at-large seats in Thursday’s runoff election with 12.9 percent of the vote, as of 10 p.m. Thursday night. She joins a historic number of women elected to the council. All five at-large members will be women, as well as 17 district councilmembers. That adds up to 22 women — a majority of the 40-member council.

“I want to say that I am elated,” Hill told the Tennessean after the historic win. A Nashville native, Hill graduated from Hillwood High School in 1983. She then served in the U.S. Navy from 1986-1995 and saw combat overseas during Desert Storm.

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund CEO Annise Parker released the following statement after Hill was elected:

“Nashville voters clearly reject the hateful rhetoric that has grown louder in Tennessee politics lately. Olivia’s victory proves that transgender people belong everywhere decisions about them are being made, including local office. I know Olivia is well-prepared to take her seat on the Metro Council and work to make Nashville and Davidson County a more welcoming place for all.”

The Metropolitan Council (officially the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County) is the legislative body of the consolidated city-county government of Nashville and Davidson County.

Continue Reading


Tenn. could lose billions in federal funds over anti-transgender laws

Ban on gender-affirming care to minors took effect July 1



(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

By the time North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law the repeal of House Bill 2, also known as the “Bathroom Bill,” in 2017 it was estimated that the state had lost up to $3.5 billion in revenue. Almost six years later, more than 500 similar anti-transgender bills have been introduced in nearly all 50 states and economists anticipate devastating financial consequences.

Tennessee, which borders North Carolina, on July 1 enacted a law that bans health care providers from offering gender-affirming care to minors. Trans minors that were receiving gender-affirming care prior to the law taking effect had to stop treatment. 

The Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee issued a report on Feb. 28 that found the bill would not only increase state spending to be in compliance with the law, but would also jeopardize federal funding opportunities. 

The law defines sex as “the biological state of being female or male, based on sex organs, chromosomes, and endogenous hormone profiles.” 

“Proposed language may result in increases to state and local expenditures associated with compliance measures, potential civil litigation, and could jeopardize federal funding,” the report says.

The report states the U.S. Education Department said the bill could jeopardize the state’s funding under policies that provide protections for students and define sex differently than the state’s law. The committee put estimated education funding losses at just over $1.2 billion.

The Tennessee Department of Health could also lose up to $750 million in federal grant money for being out of compliance with Title X, which provides family planning services for low-income families and also provides a different definition of sex than Tennessee’s law.

While it’s unknown what the total cost to Tennessee will be, many LGBTQ performers and business owners let out a sigh of relief when a federal judge blocked the state’s proposed drag ban before it could go into effect. The state has already appealed the decision.

Under the law, a first offense would be classified as misdemeanors and punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Following offenses would be classified as Class E felonies punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000.

While Tennessee’s law may have been blocked, four other states are considering similar bans. Texas, Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota have all introduced potential drag bans, with Florida’s being temporarily blocked by a district court decision. 

The state has appealed the ruling.

These bans raise questions for touring productions that include drag, in addition to local businesses. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon will be taking their holiday tour across North America this winter, and planning tour dates around where drag may or may not be banned has become a considerable factor.

“Because our tour is for a limited amount of time, we always have to be selective about where we’re going,” BenDeLaCreme told Vulture. “Unfortunately, it’s far enough out that I don’t know where the laws will be, and I am making decisions in a way where I’m like, ‘All right, we have to know we’re going to be able to go, so we’ll have to avoid these spots.’ It’s deeply upsetting because those communities need us, but it’s hard to know what to do.”

Given federal court rulings that have blocked anti-trans bills around the country, there is some hope that further bills will also be restricted. The American Civil Liberties Union has already promised to track and challenge anti-trans and anti-drag bills that are introduced in state legislatures.

Continue Reading


Vanderbilt University sued for sending records on gender affirming care to Tenn. AG

Documents shared in compliance with Jonathan Skrmetti’s orders



Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Screenshot/YouTube WTVF News Channel 5 Nashville)

Two transgender patients have filed a lawsuit against Vanderbilt University Medical Center for sharing their health records with the office of Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti in connection with its investigation into the provider’s billing practices.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argues Vanderbilt should have removed their personally identifying information in consideration of how hostile Skrmetti and other elected Republican leaders in the state have been toward gender affirming care and transgender people more broadly.

Earlier this month, an appeals court ruled Tennessee’s ban on gender affirming care for minors can go into effect, pending the outcome of litigation challenging the restrictions.

State lawmakers paused all gender affirming surgeries for minors a month after anti-trans conservative pundit Matt Walsh published footage of a provider claiming the procedures are “huge money makers” for hospitals.

Vanderbilt says the clinic performs about five surgeries per year on patients under 18 — all with parental consent and none receiving genital procedures.

Plaintiffs will seek class certification for all patients whose records were collected by authorities, a total of more than 100, according to their lawsuit.

Last month, the Los Angeles Blade confirmed the documents were shared in compliance with the attorney general’s orders for information as part of its probe into the clinic’s management of TennCare payments.

The investigation began in September 2022, with Vanderbilt beginning to turn over patient records a few months later, according to a spokesperson for Skrmetti’s office who added, “We are surprised that VUMC has deliberately chosen to frighten its patients like this.”

The Tennesseean reported that parents of trans children called a local LGBTQ advocacy organization in a panic after the medical center went public about its compliance with the attorney general’s investigation.

Likewise, the patients’ lawsuit says following the disclosure they were “terrified for their physical safety, have had significant anxiety and distress that has impacted their ability to work, has caused them to increase home security measures, and drop out of activities in which they normally would participate.”

A Vanderbilt spokesperson said, “the decision to release patient records for any purpose is never taken lightly, even in situations such as this where VUMC was legally compelled to produce the patient records.”

Disclosure of the requests came after another court case revealed their existence.

Plaintiffs contend, however, that the clinic caused emotional damage by negligently failing to redact patient information and acted in violation of privacy and consumer protection laws.

The Associated Press reports their lawsuit seeks “monetary damages, improved security procedures, an injunction blocking further release of their records without notice, an acknowledgement by Vanderbilt that it violated its own privacy policy, and an admission that the policy inadequately informs patients of their rights regarding disclosures.”

The complaint was filed Monday in the Nashville Chancery Court.

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade